Science

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 107: Scientific Advances
Science poster redesign, Eli Baden-Lasar’s portraits of his sperm-donor siblings, Jony Ive parodies, a ridiculous commercial


Jordan MacInnis
Materials as Metaphor
...We have a disrespect for materials; we use them quickly and carelessly. That is exactly where we’re at as a planet and as a society. It’s our job as material designers to tackle that.


Alan Rapp
Personal Space
Robert Sommer’s Personal Space: The Behavioral Basis of Design was published in fifty years ago, and its compact title concept — an invisible but perceptible security zone surrounding an individual — caught on.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 102: The Long View
Black hole image, Dyson Airblade, Titus Kaphar, Liz Jackson, Comic Sans takeover


Lily Hansen
Broadcaster Kat Arney Translates Science for Creative Learners
I see myself as a translator for people that are keen to learn more.


Steven Heller
Photographing Science
The role that image makers have in the fields of science and engineering is more vital, especially now.


Pamela Worth
Three Billboards Outside New Haven
Hope for the best. Vote for science.


Melissa Leone
Celestial Bodies
Man’s age-old fascination with the celestial has created countless beautiful—albeit not always accurate—diagrams of the universe.


Melissa Leone
Microbial Illustrations
Illustrated versions of the microscopic designs that make up our world.


Melissa Leone
British Mineralogy
Colored figures intended to elucidate the mineralogy of Great Britain


Steven Heller
The Ink Revolution of Jason S. Logan
Jason S. Logan is imagining a revolution for natural, place-based ink that is equivalent to what Alice Waters did for food.


Kathleen Meaney
Wing It: Testing Out Exhibit Design Using Virtual Reality
The field of environmental (or experiential) graphic design is young and on fire.


Michael Bierut
The Typeface of Truth
What are the implications when Errol Morris declares the typeface most likely to induce credulity is Baskerville?


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Mrs. E.N. Todter by Dion & Puett Studio
Art and the Ladies’ Field Club


Rick Poynor
Exposure: Chimpanzee by James Mollison
Looking into the face of an ape



Sara Jamshidi
The Tree
Three perspectives


Rick Poynor
The Body as Factory: Anatomy of an Image
Peeling back the skin of a New Scientist cover illustration by Nichola Bruce and Michael Coulson.



John Thackara
Food As A Commons
People go hungry not because of a shortage of production, but because the food available is too expensive, or they lack the land to grow it on. In California, the prototype of a combined social, political and technical solution has been launched which promises to unlock the food system crisis.



Observed
A Sculpture on the Moon
Slate has a fascinating article about artist Paul van Hoeydonck and his three-and-a-half inch scultpure, Fallen Astronaut that was (and still is) exhibited on the moon.


Alexandra Lange
Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer, Freelancer
One of the incidental pleasures of Judith Major’s new book on pioneering architecture critic Mariana Griswold Van Rensselaer is the glimpse it gives into the life of a cultural journalist at the turn of the past century.


John Thackara
Flyways
A meditation on the migratory patterns of birds and sheep.


Alexandra Lange
Rural Vacation | Urban Questions
Driving Vermont's rural routes I began to wonder: Why does this town get a brand-new energy-efficient supermarket, and that one a minimart-slash-video store-slash-bank?



Observed
Google on the Mountain
On Monday, March 18, Google released Street View images from four of the seven tallest mountains on earth.


Chris Calori
Six Feet Under: Mapping Tangled Transit Networks
A review of Underground Maps Unraveled: Explorations in Information Design by Maxwell J. Roberts.


Alexandra Lange
Someone Else’s Shangri La
An exhibition of Doris Duke's Honolulu mansion, Shangri La, proves a “Spanish-Moorish-Persian-Indian complex” works as theater.


Alexandra Lange
Hiking the Museum
Ennead Architects’ new Natural History Museum of Utah works to make natural history seem like the ongoing process of discovery that it is, layering geology and topography, paleontology and interactivity.


Constantin Boym
Extra National Journey
What happens when a Russian-born American professor takes a group of his Arab students to a workshop in Amsterdam to work with a designer who has a Canadian passport but lives in Berlin?


Alexandra Lange
Science Gets Around to Architecture
Why are we still privileging scientific studies over visual thinking?


Rick Poynor
On My Screen: The Back of Beyond
John Heyer’s The Back of Beyond, made for Shell Australia in 1954, is one of the country’s finest films.



Rob Walker
On Radiolab: the Sound of Science
“Radiolab,” a public radio show that breaks from public radio sensibilities, not least in its striking sound.


John Thackara
Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.


Josh Wallaert
Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.



Steven Heller
Souvenirs as Nazi Propaganda
Part three in a three part series on the design practices of the Third Reich.



Rob Walker
Global Entertainment
Entertainment via web-based geography.



Adam Harrison Levy
Sustainable Christmas Trees
From artificial firs to rented spruces, a report on alternatives to the chopped-down Xmas tree.



Carl Schoonover
Portraits of the Mind
The book, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams) documents this overlooked dimension over two millennia of obsession with the brain.



William Underhill
Map Kibera
Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.






Michael Bierut
Designing the Unthinkable
For more than fifty years, there have been arguments against nuclear proliferation. The Doomsday Clock translates all the arguments to a simple visual analogy.



William Drenttel, and Jon Piasecki
The Stonework of Jon Piasecki
"Stone construction is one of the most enduring traces of human activity. Any effort to quarry, cut and stack it is one that requires a powerful incentive, extensive planning and specialized skill." The Stone River project of Jon Piasecki.



The Editors
And Speaking of Sustainability...
Proceedings of a 2003 seminar about Timeship, a visionary project designed by Stephen Valentine for storing the frozen remains of people awaiting reanimation.



Mark Dery
Paradise Fouled
Review of Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary film about a lawsuit filed against Chevron by denizens of the Ecuadorean Amazon.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Mark Lamster
Triumph of the Will (Or, Everything Old Is New Again)
In the New Yorker this week, Jonah Lehrer writes about a psychological study suggesting that self control, or the ability to delay gratification, more strongly correlates with long-term success than intelligence.



Lorraine Wild
Will Burtin: Design and Science
Will Burtin’s story is presented in Design and Science: The Life and Work of Will Burtin. Like all of the emigré “pioneers,” Burtin brought an amazing amount of talent and energy (along with plain old ambition) to his modernist approach.



Debbie Millman
Jonah Lehrer
Jonah Lehrer, editor-at-large for Seed Magazine, is also a contributor to NPR’s RadioLab. He is the author of Proust was a Neuroscientist.



Debbie Millman
Eric Kandel
Nobel prize winner Eric Kandel is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Columbia University.
 




Jessica Helfand
Science and Design: The Next Wave
Scientists probe and manipulate and channel and divide; they split and fuse and spike and engineer; but most of all, they look. As a designer, to spend any time with scientists is to become at once profoundly aware of our similarities and devastated by that which divides us.



Jessica Helfand
My Dirty Little Secret
Gardening is its own infuriating design challenge. You fret and you rethink and you second-guess yourself constantly, and then for one delirious, thrilling moment something blooms and you feel utterly triumphant. And then it dies and you are back where you started.



William Drenttel
International Polar Year
In what may turn out to be the biggest international scientific project to date, an army of thousands of scientists will spend the next two years studying the Arctic and Antarctic as part of the International Polar Year, which officially begins this week.



Jessica Helfand
Death 'N' Stuff
Smoking Kills: The label days it all. Or does it? Once the allegedly chilling skull and crossbones is marketed as a decorative pattern
on a silk bowtie, its credibility as an mark of peril seems, well, somewhat questionable, begging the question: have we become so bored by life that we've inadvertently become inured to death?



William Drenttel
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.



William Drenttel
Weather Report: 53 Degrees F. Heavy Snowfall Predicted
The weather is fucked up. "Science is a way of making sense of the world. Design is a way of making the world make sense."



Jessica Helfand
Face Value
Facial transplants mapping our future: how much is the world of design responsible?



William Drenttel
Maps of Cyberspace
It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?



Jessica Helfand
Greer Allen: In Memoriam
Designer, critic, pundit and historian, Greer Allen was Senior Critic in Graphic Design at Yale School of Art. He designed publications for The Houghton Library at Harvard, the Beinecke Library at Yale, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and a number of other distinguished cultural institutions around the country. Greer Allen died last week after a short illness. He was 83.



Rick Poynor
Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.



The Editors
Understanding and Action




Jessica Helfand
Under The Microscope




William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician III




Jessica Helfand
Take Two Logos and Call Me in the Morning




Jessica Helfand
One Person, One Vote, One MRI?




Jessica Helfand
Annals of Typographic Oddity No. 2: Spaceship Gothic




William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.



William Drenttel
Uut, Uup and Away
What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?



Observed | October 08

The renaissance of the Friends logo. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | September 30

Max Hirshfeld shares his parents‘ poignant Holocaust love story through photographs, letters, and text. [BV]


Observed | September 19

Our dear friend Rob Walker has a new column, Off Brand, for the new Medium business magazine, Marker. He kicks off with which tech companies need a Black Mirror unit that focuses on how products can be misused, and design accordingly. [BV]

Watch Charles and Ray Eames put their 1969 spin on one of the world’s oldest toys. [BV]


Observed | September 18

A tribute to the dearly departed paper sports ticket. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | September 10

The blobification of the American restaurant. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | September 04

Beginning with the Dada and Surrealist movements, Paris nurtured a tradition of artists, including Ernst, Tanguy, Arp, and Léger, illustrating imaginative and important books. Designers and Books explores Paris and the Artist’s Book in the 1920s and ’30s. [BV]

What‘s the point of album covers in the post-album era? Jon Caramanica and Teddy Blanks discuss. [MB]


Observed | September 03

The history of the Roman Empire, which spans hundreds of years and multiple continents, is chronicled in statues and monuments its citizens left behind. Artsy has a list of seven ancient Roman sculptures you need to know. [BV]

Over the summer, Hyperallergic interviewed dozens of art handlers about the variable conditions of their workplaces. This week, their stories of accident and injury come to light. [BV]


Observed | September 02

KCET is back with a new season of Masters of Modern Design. Season 10 kicks off with the influence of Japanese American artists and designers—Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, S. Neil Fujita and Gyo Obata—in postwar American art and design. (h/t Steven Heller) [LY]


Observed | August 30

We use hurricane forecast graphics to warn people. Why do we misinterpret them so often? A marvelous explanation of misreading hurricane graphics. [BV]


Observed | August 29

When your brain won’t let you recognize people, how do you navigate the world? [BV]

Pedro Bell, the artist who created Funkadelic’s cosmic album covers, died Tuesday at 69. [BV]


Observed | August 26

On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe. [BV]

Sonic branding has appliances and devices singing new tunes. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | August 23

Don‘t miss the next MITX InsideDesign event featuring Google Nest‘s Director of Design, Kate Freebairn. The event is on September 25, 8-9:30AM at Mad*Pow‘s Boston office. Get the MITX member rate on tickets using code OBSERVER. Register now [BV]


Observed | August 22

Ikea has swapped its brand typeface to Noto, a collaborative type family from Monotype and Google, after a decade of using Verdana across its visual identity. [BV]

“I’ve always had a studio in my house. I raised both of my children in my studio. I see my studio as a daily practice the way some people see yoga: it’s a sanctuary.” Jessica Helfand talks to Madame Architect. [BV]


Observed | August 19

Visual identity for Re:publica rebels against digital culture with reams of text. Fertig Design has created a visual identity for the Re:publica conference that uses lengthy passages of text and typography instead of conventional graphics to pay “homage to the written word”. [LY]

This is the world’s worst UI—and it speaks volumes about design today. The Antwerp design agency Bagaar built an impossible form for you to fill out—and it puts all your design assumptions to the test. [LY]


Observed | August 15

Roger Ballen revisits his never-before-published Woodstock photos. The internationally renowned artist was just 19 when he took his trusty Nikon to the festival. Only one was ever published—till now. [LY]

Google has a secret design library. The company’s industrial design team shares a handful of titles from its studio library, which is curated by team members. Here are 35 of its best books. [LY]

Morphosis is designing LA’s Korean American National Museum. The museum will incorporate elements of traditional Korean houses and lots of greenery. [LY]


Observed | August 14

Be water’ The Hong Kong protest mantra encourages fluidity and adaptability to any situation influences how art is designed and distributed. [LY]

London design agency OMSE has created an augmented reality campaign for cultural venue Printworks London that transforms static typography into immersive three-dimensional animations. [LY]


Observed | August 12

Why are all recreational vehicles covered in swirls and swooshes? (via James I. Bowie) [LY]


Observed | August 08

New York knows its arts organizations have a diversity problem. The city asked cultural institutions, including museums and performing arts centers, to draw up plans to make their staff and board members more diverse. [LY]

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to make circular design “the new normal” by persuading 20 million designers to help transform the global economy from a linear to a circular model. [LY]


Observed | August 07

Domino’s Pizza is locked in a legal battle over the future of web design. The pizza company has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a three-year-old case that deals with whether Domino’s is legally required to make its websites and apps accessible to all users. [LY]



Jobs | October 21